LONDON, June 26 — Liverpool were crowned Premier League champions on Thursday as Chelsea’s win over Manchester City ended the Reds’ 30-year wait to win the English title with manager Jurgen Klopp hailing it as “an incredible achievement”.
Klopp’s men sealed a 19th league title for the club with a record seven games left to play after second placed City’s defeat left them 23 points adrift.
Liverpool had moved within two points of the title with a 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday.
Liverpool, whose long wait for the title had been stretched even further by the three-month coronavirus shutdown, got the favour they wanted when Chelsea beat City 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Willian’s 78th-minute penalty, awarded for a handball by Fernandinho, ended City’s two-year reign as champions after Kevin De Bruyne had cancelled out Christian Pulisic’s opener.
Liverpool tweeted “We’re Premier League champions!!” seconds after the final whistle while Manchester City tweeted their congratulations.
“It was really tense for 100 minutes of the City game, I didn’t really want to be involved but you are when you watch it,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“It’s an incredible achievement by my players and it’s a huge joy for me to coach them. I haven’t waited 30 years, I have been here for four-and-a-half years, but it is quite an achievement, especially with the three-month break because nobody knew if we could go on.”
Former Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who was in charge last time the club won the title, told BT Sport: “They have got what they deserved, won the Champions League and Club World Cup in the past 12 months, and it is onwards and upwards.”
Scores of Liverpool fans gathered outside Anfield for the final whistle from Stamford Bridge.
Fireworks went off and fans waved flags and sang: “We’ve gone and won the league.”
Many fans wore face masks and some lit flares.
Geoff Garner, 72, who has been a Liverpool fan since 1961, said: “I thought we would have won it about five times before now.”
Liverpool have clinched the title earlier than any other Premier League champions, breaking the previous record of five games left shared by City and Manchester United.
It has been an agonising wait for Liverpool fans across the world, with the coronavirus lockdown forcing them to put the champagne on ice after the Premier League was suspended in March with Klopp’s team two wins from the title.
Liverpool spent years in the shadow of arch-rivals Manchester United during the Alex Ferguson era before being left behind by the massive spending of Manchester City and Chelsea.
Then managed by Brendan Rodgers, they infamously squandered a golden opportunity to win the title in 2014 when Reds captain Steven Gerrard made his costly slip in a late-season defeat against Chelsea.
But Klopp’s team are deserved champions after an incredible campaign that could end in record-breaking style.
Liverpool, who are now one title behind Manchester United’s English record haul of 20, are on course to beat Manchester City’s record points total of 100 set in 2017/18.
Klopp’s men could smash the record for the biggest winning margin, set by City when they finished 19 points clear at the top in that same season.
They are also within touching distance of the most victories in a Premier League season -- 32 by City in 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Klopp, the first German manager to win the Premier League, has been the architect of Liverpool’s renaissance since the former Borussia Dortmund boss arrived at Anfield in 2015.
Infusing his players with a belief in his “heavy metal” football and high-tempo “gegen-pressing” game-plan, the charismatic Klopp has earned his place alongside Liverpool’s iconic former managers Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Dalglish.
They won the Champions League last season, when they beat Tottenham in the final, 12 months after losing to Real Madrid at the same stage of the competition.
Liverpool were pipped to the title by Manchester City on the final day of last season, finishing with a record 97 points for top-flight runners-up.
But with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino forming a formidable front three, Jordan Henderson a tireless presence in midfield and Virgil van Dijk imperious at the back, Liverpool have left City trailing in their wake this season. — AFP